For over twelve years, from 1949 through 1962 (including a one year hiatus in 1954-1955), this series recounted the cases "the man with the action-packed expense account, America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator, Johnny Dollar". Johnny was an accomplished 'padder' of his expense account. The name of the show derives from the fact that he closed each show by totaling his expense account, and signing it "End of report... Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar".
Terry Salomonson in his authoritative "A Radio Broadcast Log of the Drama Program Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar", notes that the original working title was "Yours Truly, Lloyd London". Salomonson writes "Lloyd London was scratched out of the body of (the Dick Powell) audition script and Johnny Dollar was written in. Thus the show was re-titled on this script and the main character was renamed. Why this was done was unclear – possibly to prevent a legal run-in with Lloyd’s of London Insurance Company." Although based in Hartford, Connecticut, the insurance capital of the world, freelancer Johnny Dollar managed to get around quite a bit – his adventures taking him all over the world.
There were some unusual devices used in the show that help set it apart from other shows. There was no partner, assistant, or secretary for Johnny. The character closest to a continuing role was that of Pat McCracken of the Universal Adjustment Bureau, who assigned Johnny many of his cases. Another atypical aspect gave the show additional credibility – frequently, characters on the show would mention that they had heard about Johnny’s cases on the radio. Johnny often used his time when filling out his expense accounts to give the audience background information or to express his thoughts about the current case.
No fewer than eight actors played Johnny Dollar. Dick Powell, of Rogue’s Gallery fame, cut the original audition tape, but chose to do Richard Diamond, Private Detective instead. Gerald Mohr, of The Adventures of Philip Marlowe fame, auditioned in 1955, prior to Bob Bailey getting the title role. Through the first three actors to play Johnny Dollar (Charles Russell, Edmond O'Brien, and John Lund), there was little to distinguish the series from many other radio detective series. Dollar was just another hard-boiled detective in a medium that was overloaded with the stereotype. Charles Russell, the first to play the role, would throw silver dollars to bellboys and waiters. Luckily, this trite gimmick did not survive long.
On October 3, 1955, after a hiatus of over a year, the show came back with a vengeance. A new production team, including director/writer Jack Johnstone, a new star, Bob Bailey, from the radio series Let George Do It, and a new format would set the series apart from its competitors. Johnny's cases were now a continuing serial, five days a week, for fifteen minutes each evening. With 75 minutes of airtime, minus commercials and openings and closings, there was sufficient time to develop good storylines and interesting characters.
During this time, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar attracted some of the best writers in Hollywood, including Jack Johnstone, E. Jack Neuman (using the pen name John Dawson), Robert Ryf, and Les Crutchfield. Bob Bailey also wrote a script while he was playing Johnny Dollar. He used the pen name Robert Bainter (Bainter was his middle name) as the scriptwriter for "The Carmen Kringle Matter", which was aired on Saturday, December 21, 1957 on the West Coast, and on the following day for the rest of the country.
Bob Bailey, generally thought of as the most popular of the Johnny Dollars, brought a new interpretation to the character – tough, but not hard-boiled; streetwise, but not overly cynical, Bailey's Dollar was smart and gritty when he had to be. But Bailey's Johnny Dollar was also human. His character would get emotionally involved in a number of his cases. He had a streak of impatience, and would occasionally not fully listen to a witness and rush off on a tangent before realizing his mistake.
The weekday serialized episodes are generally acknowledged as some of the finest radio detective shows ever produced. There were fifty six multi-part shows in all: fifty four five-part shows, one six-part show, and one nine-part show. The serialized episodes continued until November 2, 1956 when the series again reverted to a once a week, thirty minute format. Bob Bailey continued in the lead, until "The Empty Threat Matter" of November 27, 1960, when the Hollywood run ended.
The guest stars and supporting casts were always first rate, attracting the best radio actors in both Los Angeles and New York. Pat McCracken was played by several actors – most frequently, by Larry Dobkin. Particularly noteworthy was the work of Virginia Gregg, who played many roles, including Johnny's girlfriend Betty Lewis. Harry Bartell was also a frequent guest, who did many of the Spanish dialect roles when Johnny went to a Latin American country. Other frequent guest performers were Parley Baer, Tony Barrett, John Dehner, Don Diamond, Sam Edwards, Herb Ellis, Frank Gerstle, Stacy Harris, Jack Kruschen, Forrest Lewis, Howard McNear, Marvin Miller, Jeanette Nolan, Vic Perrin, Barney Phillips, Jean Tatum, Russell Thomson, Ben Wright, and Will Wright. Vincent Price co-starred as himself in "The Price of Fame Matter" and went to Europe with Johnny on the case.
In December 1960, the show moved to New York. Robert Readick started the New York run as Dollar, but only lasted a short while. Jack Johnstone continued to write for the show and submitted scripts from California. Johnstone wrote about 350 Johnny Dollar scripts under his own name and his pen names Sam Dawson and Jonathan Bundy. Johnstone wrote the last episodes of both Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense. He used the Bundy pen name when writing the last Suspense episode, "Devilstone".
And so, an era passed. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was the last continuing detective series of the Golden Age of Radio. Mandel Kramer was the last Johnny Dollar, and a close second in popularity to Bailey, when the final episode, "The Tip-Off Matter", was aired on September 30, 1962.
Material for this description was prepared by Stewart Wright.
From the Old Time Radio Researcher's Group. See "Note" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
It contains the most complete and accurate version of this series in the best sound possible at the time of creation. An updated version will be issued if more episodes or better sounding ones become available.
If you are interested in preserving old time radio, you may wish to join the Old Time Radio Researchers Group at Yahoo.
This is the Single Episode Page. The Certified Set includes extras not found here. It is located at OTRR Certified Set. This page is provided in case you want to sample the shows.
Note that in many cases, file names have been modified from the original OTRR names to conform to archive.org naming requirements.
Relax, listen, and enjoy!
OTRR Certified Accurate -- A series that is Certified Accurate indicates that all the episodes are properly identified and labeled but that the series does not contain all known extant episodes.
OTRR Certified Complete -- A series that is Certified Complete is the highest level of certification available under the OTRR Certified Standards. This certification level implies that all the files in the series are Certified Accurate but also indicates that the series is as complete as possible – it includes all extant episodes.
March 22, 2019 Subject:
Short and Sweet
Just the best of something which,sadly,will not come to radio again.
November 25, 2018 Subject:
Favorite Johnny Dollar actor
In my opinion Bob Bailey and Mandel Kramer were the best for two reasons. Bob Bailey defined the role when the revised program went on its new 15 minute format. The writing changed, Johnny was not just another tough guy padding his expense account and busting heads. The revised character was a lot deeper. Bob Bailey performed the role of the new Johnny Dollar very well, and with the show's improved writing and sound effects Bob Bailey was indeed Johnny Dollar. Mandel Kramer came in later at the end of the program's run and also did a fine job, IMHO preserving the JD that Bailey defined but just a little different. All in all the two actors took the series to the top of that genre.
October 18, 2018 Subject:
How do I play episodes of Johnny Dollar on my smart phone? My phone does not show me a list of the individual episodes. Hornman1972@yahoo.com
September 9, 2018 Subject:
ONLY ONE CAN BE THE BEST
In the last 15 years I have listened to the entire series AT LEAST 25 times. I started listening on other sites before it hit the Internet Archive. While I respect many opinions on who likes what best I have to throw my hat in the ring for the one and only best Johnny Dollar and that of course is Edmund O'Brien. Yes it is an opinion but it is one of the few where I do not understand how many people do not feel as strongly as I do but it is more important I guess that we all enjoy the show.
August 24, 2018 Subject:
Golden Days of Radio
A number of great radio dramas continued aired on the American Forces Network Europe through the 80's and 90's. Johnny Dollar was a regular feature. Thanks to you for archiving them!
February 5, 2018 Subject:
It's like having good friend.
I have this web site on my computer as well as a similar one on my phone.I have been a fan of Old Time Radio for over 45 years,Johnny Dollar has become on of my favorite show to listen too, and I feel I have gotten to know Johnny quite well and the character is so well written that Johnny could be a real person out there.Talk about a great way to pass time, this show is awesome, and one would think that it might get old really quick because of the similarities between each show, but in fact it is quite the opposite. Every job Johnny takes on brings a fresh new look at the deviousness, and cleverness that each human potentially has and therefore brings a lot of originality to each show.There are many more positive adjectives I can use to describe this show but lets just say that it contains all the necessities of an award winning show!
January 1, 2018 Subject:
program stops and ruins the pleasure of listening
Johnny Dollar is high on my list of favorite detectives. These and other shows keep me company during the long lonely shifts at work. Sadly though, the pleasure of this audio company is being corrupted by glitches that cause cut-outs and breaks that start the show over. It is truly very annoying.
It is not an isolated incident. PLEASE, look into it and fix it. Because of the glitches, I cannot give as high a rating as I would like.
the project has done an outstanding recovering and restoring these shows, please help.
August 3, 2017 Subject:
A "No rating"
This set seems corrupted. Attempts to d/l Bob Bailey's 15-minute episodes from the latter 50s for transfer to Sansa and SanDisk mp3 players produced some zany results.
File transfer seemed fine; the Music and Playlist produced with the mp3 player attached via USB are "perfect".
But, on the player itself, several of the programs have been displaced by the August 12, 1962 episode "The Oldest Gag Matter" with Mandell Kramer! And these eps do appear on the playlist read from the device.
In other words, a download of seven sets, 35 episodes, resulted in 28 of the desired programs and 7 repeats of the Kramer ep.
July 9, 2017 Subject:
Johnny Dollar is one of the best detectives shows he can take apart all of the crooks foolish ways so he can get them
July 27, 2016 Subject:
I have to agree
With what has all been said about Yours Truly, Bob Bailey does as good of a job as anyone, and brings out the best making the series rank near the top, if not at the top. Put Bob along with Joel McCrea in Tales of the Texas Rangers and , Well watch out criminals. The Rangers are kinda like the Mounties, they get their man. Thank You to all who have put forth the effort to make this all possible.
April 30, 2016 Subject:
Love these, but too many technical problems.
I love Johnny Dollar--especially the Bob Bailey ones Sadly, quite a number of episodes on here have technical problems, including very annoying "zaps" of loud sound on many of the later ones. Hopefully, they can eventually be replaced with better copies.
March 22, 2016 Subject:
Just Found This Site........
BIG Johnny Dollar fan. Could not believe it when I found this site. Love listening to the old radio shows.
January 4, 2016 Subject:
Brings back good memories
This is an excellent site. I particularly enjoy Johnny Dollar especially Bob Bailey's Johnny. Thank you for all the important and historical work you are doing.
November 12, 2015 Subject:
Truly great, Johnny Dollar
One of my faves of all OTR series. Good sound and pretty easy to use and navigate. I saw negative comments on the "cert. set" but as with many old shows sound and digitizing can alter sound quality. The bob Baileys are my choice, but loving the show, plots, characters has me very happy with all eps. Thanx to all for these fine performances!
September 28, 2015 Subject:
Bob Bailey Rocks
I have loved this show for the longest time - thanks so much for making it available!
September 25, 2015 Subject:
Dollar works- but
After having downloaded over 700 episodes I find that a lot skips -2-5 mins and on we are on to the next one (episode). Needs a dedicated person to effect a clean-up. Still what I can can hear is second to none - great radio series.
August 28, 2015 Subject:
15 minute shows were best
i could listen to this show all day and all night. so much more talent was to be had on radio than anything hollywood can dream up for tv or movies. radio needs to make a BIG comeback one day.
October 5, 2013 Subject:
Wanted to re-listen to some of these.
Started with the 3rd episode, the Parakoff Policy.
Glitchy as hell - kept shutting down on me. I finally gave up.
Johnny Dollar is great - especially the 15 minute per day episodes with Bob Bailey. But I am going to have to dig up my YTJD MP3 discs because at least the third track here isn't working for me.
August 1, 2013 Subject:
A real treasure
Listening to the details of Johnny Dollar's expense account has been nothing short of a sensational walk into another world. Each episode is well put together, especially the earlier programs where the writing is fresher and the delivery at a breath taking pace.
Thanks to the person(s) who took the time and energy to not only preserve these items but to make them available to everyone.
April 20, 2013 Subject:
One of my favorite Detectives from OTR: "the man with the action-packed expense account, America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator, Johnny Dollar".
December 31, 2012 Subject:
the best ever
i grew up with the majority of the radio shows that the "youngters" are enjoying now. i ate lunch during "young dr. malone" and dinner with "the lone ranger." by far, YTJD is the best!
when it went off the air in "62, i was in junior high school, and plus, the beatles were the cat's meow! ANYWAY, my favorite YTJD is "cui bono" from 2/13/56 and "indestructible mike" from 6/4/56. these two shows were in the 15 format or 5 shows a week on the average.
i have 7 mp3s of YTJD and dick powell is indeed doing his audition for the fist johnny dollar. i am glad he went on to do richard diamond private detective and rogue's gallery. this way, we got to listen to bob bailey at his best. i listen to them all, expecially philo vance (my #2 guy) but wne i want to just put my feet up and my earphones on, YTJD is the man.
November 3, 2012 Subject:
The premise for this program might seem a bit preposterous to some-a world traveling freelance insurance investigator named Dollar who not only solves the tough cases but pads his expense account along the way. But believe it or not, this is a great show! Superb production standard, great writing, and an excellent cast...especially the 5 + part shows. One of the best!
August 13, 2012 Subject:
Had to Dig for My Favorites
Looks like you do have them all here. I'd like to share with others two of my favorites: #530 Ghost to Ghost, which has an all-star cast, including Bob Bruce, who was the narrator for some Disney cartoons. Some unusual MUTEL music bridge cues, too. And also #472 Blooming Blossom with Howard McNear as an eccentric collector. He was "Doc" on radio's Gunsmoke, which was the BEST Gunsmoke.
I'd like to hear from other old time radio lovers.
May 3, 2012 Subject:
One of my favorites
Along with Gunsmoke this is one of my favorite OTR shows. Because there are so many episodes there will be shows that are not that great but overall, week in and week out it was as good as there was. Bob Bailey was the best for sure.
March 19, 2012 Subject:
Life of Bob Bailey
I have read what's out there on the internet/wikipedia about Bob Bailey. Anybody know anything about him..if his daugher wrote a book?, or interviews with him...I mean, during his run, he must of given interviews, he was a top tier radio star. I would love to see the Johnny Dollar pilot that didnt sell.
January 10, 2012 Subject:
I love Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar as much as the next person, but Dick Powell did an audition at the beginning of the series, and I thought he was a very good Dollar. The first three Dollars lacked wit and humor and Mandel Kramer was pretty much Bob Bailey lite. For my taste, only Bob Bailey and Dick Powell could fill the shoes of Johnny Dollar.
January 10, 2012 Subject:
Bob Bailey IS Johnny Dollar
I love Johnny Dollar. When I first heard the premise, a detective show based around an insurance man's expense account, I thought it would be melodramatice and corny. It is not! And, for the record, Bob Bailey was the absolute best Johnny Dollar. Very believable and real.
September 12, 2010 Subject:
How to download?
Simply right click on the "size" button and "save as" to your computer.
That said, this is one of the better OTR series produced. I'm personally not a fan of the serial version because you have to open multiple files to listen to a single show, but they're well written.
September 7, 2010 Subject:
Where is the download button?????????
May 25, 2010 Subject:
The Johnny Dollar Matter
Anyone who loves Radio Detectives will love YTJD. The Bob Bailey era is the best especially when it went weekly with 15 minute episodes. Do yourself a favor next road trip play some of these shows you will be so engaged. It is pretty much top 5 of OTR (Gunsmoke, Dragnet, YTJD, Jack Benny and Gildersleeve)
August 29, 2009 Subject:
This show wasn't revived and last until the end of the Golden Era of Radio for nothing! Seriously! Personally my favorite Private detective show along with Broadway is my Beat.
March 29, 2009 Subject:
I fell inlove with these shows a few years ago and love them!! great drama, and good radio, I only wish I would of been around to hear these on the radio. it must of been great fun!!! love them I have over 780 shows in my computer. and Ilove them all been collecting these for years...
December 24, 2008 Subject:
A great surprise
I was born too late to listen to these on the air, but this collection is a real revelation, and a real treat.
The early ones are slightly more formulaeic (hardened gumshoe style), but are so well done, and move so fast, and with such force and humor, that they are just as enjoyable as the later shows (considered the high point of radio).
An enjoyable collection of intrigue, comedy, and fantasy-detective work.
May 23, 2008 Subject:
Any JD is a good JD
The synopsis does such a good job of presenting and describing the series that you should just listen and enjoy. The multipart series are a treat, and they, alone with the 30 minute standalone episodes, are not just great radio, they're also good drama, period.